Low-proof Cocktails Satisfy Younger Bar Guests

Images provided by Farmers & Distillers

Last week Farmers & Distillers in Washington, D.C., launched a new menu featuring a selection of low-alcohol cocktails.

Listed under Highballs there are nine drinks, which contain between one ounce and an ounce-and-a-half of liquor. These are essential to offer today, says Jon Arroyo, managing partner, beverage and distillery.

“Times change and you change with them or at least try to be conscious of them and get involved. We are taking a stab at it and seeing where we fit in,” he says.

“This what the newer generation is looking for—simpler more straightforward drinks,” Arroyo says. “These are low in alcohol and we’re trying to do drinks composed with less sugar. I think they go hand in hand. I believe the beverage consumption world is trending towards more straightforward beverages that don’t knock you over the head right away.”

Farmers & Distillers has been known as a classic cocktail restaurant and bar since it opened in 2016, so Arroyo opted to continue that with the Highballs. “We want to stay a part of that but also be on board with drinking a little more sensibly and healthily.”

Farmers & Distillers Salty Dog Highball cocktail
The Salty Dog Highball at Farmers & Distillers

The venue has a Suntory Highball Machine from Japan which perfectly carbonates and refrigerates the spirit and the seltzer so they blend perfectly. “It’s a seamless integration of spirits and seltzer,” Arroyo says. Other than that, the cocktails are crafted traditionally by the bartender.

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The nine cocktails include the Founding Spirits Highball (vodka or gin, served over ice with seltzer and a twist); Salty Dog (vodka, grapefruit-infused seltzer, grapefruit bitters, salted rim); and Cape Codder Spritz (vodka, rosé, cranberry juice, lime, orange essence, seltzer). Arroyo expects the simplest drinks to be the most popular.

Non-Alcohol Versions

At the same time, Farmers & Distillers has introduced a line of housemade sodas that are sugar-free or low-sugar.

The four on offer are: grapefruit; citrus; citrus and mint; and green tea. Only the latter contains any sugar, in the form of honey. The others are made simply with seltzer infused with oil essences, which makes for a very refreshing drink, Arroyo says.

He expects these drinks to appeal to everyone and wants no one to feel awkward drinking them. So, they look like cocktails, served in ribbed Collins glasses, with decorations like a grapefruit wheel. “The drink’s still going to look cool and you shouldn’t have to feel outcast,” he says.

He expects them to be particularly popular at night. At lunchtime there’s more of a get-in, get-out mentality as the meal is rushed, but at dinner time, “people seek out whatever it is that’s going to add to the enjoyment of their experience,” he says.

“This is new territory for us, and I think we’ll have a positive response, going by how popular flavored seltzers are these days, like La Croix.”

Arroyo continues to feature “scratch soda” on the menu, with flavors of grapefruit, orange, lemon-lime, ginger, hibiscus and vanilla, but thinks they may fall out of favor as guests opt for the naturally sugar-free versions.

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The irony of these beverages, Arroyo says, is that guests often ask to add vodka or gin to them.


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